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Children of Parents with Lung Cancer Have Increased


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Incidence of Several Cancers

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Researchers from Germany have reported that passive smoking during childhood is associated with an increased risk of nasal cancer. The same study also suggests that bladder and kidney cancers may be increased through breast feeding and in utero exposure. The details of this study appeared as an early online publication in the International Journal of Cancer.

Active and passive smoking increases the incidence of lung cancer. In utero exposure to tobacco products by smoking mothers has also been associated with an increased incidence of breast cancer and brain tumors. However, the effects of exposure to tobacco smoke at an early age have not been thoroughly evaluated.

The authors of the present study used the Swedish family cancer database from 1958 to 2002 to determine whether children of parents with lung cancer were at risk for various cancers. This database included 17,693 mothers and 41,838 fathers with lung cancer. They found 173,715 cancers in the children of parents with lung cancer. Offspring of mothers with lung cancer had an increased risk of upper aerodigestive (SIR 1.45), nasal (SIR 2.93), lung (SIR 1.71), kidney (6.41) and bladder cancer (1.52). Cancers of these same sites were also increased in children of fathers with lung cancer except for kidney and bladder cancers. Kidney and bladder cancers occurred at a younger age than other cancers with the highest risk being between 20 and 40 years of age. The highest risk (SIR 7.73) was for nasal adenoid cystic carcinoma, which was increased in children with a mother or a father with lung cancer.

These authors conclude that passive smoking during childhood is associated with an increase in nasal cancer. They also suggest that bladder and kidney cancers are due to breast feeding and in utero exposure to tobacco products.

Comments: These data further highlight the adverse effects of passive exposure to smoking especially at a young age.

Reference: Hemminki K, Chen B. Parental lung cancer as a predictor of cancer risks in offspring: clues about multiple routes of harmful influence? International Journal of Cancer. 2005. Published ahead of print August 10. http://www.interscience.wiley.com.doi:10.1002/ijc.21387 .

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